Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Between-Projects Stupor

I know the stupor exists, because I'm officially in it. After months on a steady, productive, creative burn, I find myself staring at my laptop and wondering what to do. A sheen of exhaustion has settled over me, yet I'm restless, needing a deadline or a project, afraid that if I let myself ease into inactivity I'll never take up the mantle again.

First book shepherded through to production? Check.
Proposal for new series completed and submitted to agent? Check.
Biggest revisions on work-in-progress completed? Check.

--Not that there's nothing to do, mind you:
--I have some contest entries to judge for Georgia Romance Writers.
--I have to work on that political minefield known as the acknowledgment page for the book in production.
--I need to get the first three chapters written on the third book in my New Orleans series and finish proposals for that and a fourth book.
--I have a book review due to Night Owl Reviews .
--I have notes printed out from the online workshops I signed up for in May and June and never had time to read.
--I need to do some pre-emptive revisions on the second New Orleans book before the revision letter from my editor at Tor comes in the next couple of weeks.

Meh. Can't seem to stir up the energy for it.

How much down-time do you take between projects? Why do I feel guilty turning off the laptop and watching all my DVR'd episodes of "Ice Road Truckers?"

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

We Break from our Usual Programming: My New Hero

No writing stuff today. Billy Nungesser made me cry last night, so I want to talk about him.

Billy is a big guy with a loud voice, and he's pissed. As president of Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, ground zero of the BP oil spill, he's not bothering to play nice-nice about red tape and useless hand-wringing. He's bought 40 shop-vacs and has his people standing out in the middle of America's wetlands, soaking up oil while the "experts" argue about what might or might not work.

He's taken on everyone from NOAA to the  Coast Guard to the government, and says BP CEO Tony Hayward was "lucky to get out of Louisiana alive." Because we'd hate for the guy to have missed his yacht race, true?

There's something about this big beefy guy standing in the middle of a swamp and crying on last night's news that just brought all my post-Katrina angst to the surface again. The worst part: telling Brian Williams to stop and listen. They should have heard birds calling, insects buzzing. They heard nothing. "It's dead," he said. "It's just dead."

Just had to get that off my chest. Back to regular programming.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A New Kind of Paranormal Critter: The Book Proposal

I can create wizards, merpeople, elven synods, vampire scathes, even some lusty satyrs. I like them. They're fun. I can play and send imagination soaring.

But the latest and oddest new species has been kicking my butt: the Dreaded Book Proposal, or DBP.

One thing I have learned about me and the DBP: I'd rather read a stack of computer manuals.

First off,  what is a proposal, and how does it differ from a synopsis? And if I'm proposing a book for a new urban fantasy, how do I explain all that complex worldbuilding in a way that gives the editor who reads it enough information to make an informed decision on its publishability but not so much information that his or her eyes cross?

So I went off searching the Internet for ideas and didn''t find any, basically. Lots out there about queries and blurbs. I love queries and blurbs. Rather to be short and provocative than long-winded and boring.

Next, I pump my (EXTREMELY patient) agent for information. Proposal = blurb + synopsis + three chapters.  Well, okay, now we're getting somewhere.

Except I'm still hung up on that worldbuilding thing.

JR Ward to the rescue. I recently began reading her BLACK DAGGER BROTHERHOOD: AN INSIDER'S GUIDE, which is a riotous read, by the way. She tries to interview the Brothers and they eat her lunch, basically. But, lo and behold, she included her original BDB proposal. I love the structure of it:
--Overview
--Main Characters
--Rules of the World
--Storyline/Synopsis

This structure makes a lot of sense to me and makes me feel I can write a synopsis that makes sense because those niggly worldbuilding details and short character intros are already out of the way. So that's what I'm doing. If it gets shot down, I'll let you know!

Anyone out there done a proposal before? Special techniques? Want to do mine for me? I'll bribe you with Chilton County, Alabama, peaches--the best in the world!

Friday, June 25, 2010

My Novel as a Movie--Meet the "Cast" of Royal Street

It's Friday, so I'm blogging over at Write in the Shadows today. All week, my blog partners have been casting their novels as movies, and today's my turn to cast ROYAL STREET, which will be released by Tor Books in 2011. Come on over and leave a comment! Click HERE to visit.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

When a Novel Has an Identity Crisis

For the last seven months (minus about two months for revisions on other projects), I have been working on a book called STOCKHOLM, with the main characters named Beth and Galen and set in the fictional Alabama town of Stockholm.

First, I discovered another book in the same genre had a lead character named Beth. Goodbye, Beth. Hello, Krystal.

Next, my vigilant alpha reader (yay Dianne) pointed out that my early 17th-century Irishman wouldn't have been named Galen because that name hadn't yet made it to Ireland by 1600. Goodbye Galen, hello Aedhan aka Aidan.

Then, I began thinking having the name Stockholm for my town when a major book subplot is Stockholm Syndrome was overkill. So I changed the name back to the area in Chambers County I'd chosen to locate my town, Penton. Goodbye Stockholm, hello Penton.

If my town is named Penton, it makes no sense to have the book named Stockholm, and I don't like Penton has a title. So, goodbye STOCKHOLM, hello REDEMPTION: A NOVEL OF THE PENTON VAMPIRES.

So the bad news is, I'm calling all my characters by the wrong name and have weird words in the manuscript where the global change went wacky.

The good news is (drum roll, please) it's DONE.

Anyone else have a book with an identity crisis?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mixing Mythologies in Urban Fantasy

Are you a purist or a free-thinker when it come to your urban fantasy lore? Or, like me, somewhere in between?

Some cases in point:

Vampires. The bulk of vampire mythology was developed before vampires became romantic heroes. They drink blood. They can't go out in sunlight. They can't abide garlic, crosses or holy water. The best way to kill them is a stake through the heart.

Werewolves have also been changed as they became heroes instead of monsters. Traditionally, they can only be killed by silver, and their changes are dictated by the cycles of the moon.

These days, we have some vampires who only avoid sunlight because it makes their skin glitter (okay, that one REALLY bothers me), who can live off animal blood--or off each other. They don't like garlic because they don't eat, and crosses/holy water might or might not bother them. The "new" vampire death methods extend to fire, removal of the heart, or decapitation,and in addition to their superhuman strength, they also can sometimes zip along at 90 mph, or even fly (or glitter in the sun as they climb trees like monkeys...grrr). They also might have an aversion to silver. Weres, on the other hand, can  usually change at will these days--although they don't have an option of not changing during the full moon.

So when I set out to create my own vampire society, I had a lot of old and new traditions from which to cherry-pick. My Penton vampires cannot go out in sunlight without becoming crispy critters,can't fly, and only feed from humans--they're old-fashioned that way. But I also gave them some of the newer traits--silver doesn't kill them, but it zaps their strength to human-size (puny), they are fond of drinking alcohol, and can be killed by removal of the heart or head. Nice.

I'm still working around, and generally ignoring, the age-old question: Do vampires have to go to the bathroom? I mean, if they're drinking alcohol...I'm just sayin'.

Monday, June 21, 2010

July Releases in Urban Fantasy--Preview

Are the three dozen books in my TBR pile not enough? What if I run out of things to read? So, what's coming out this month? That's my topic this week...looking at some new releases that look interesting. Part one...see anything you can't resist? The Robin Parrish and Allison Brennan books caught my eye.

Red Hot Fury, by Kasey Mackenzie (Greek mythology comes to life in Boston)
Carnal Sin, by Allison Brennan (another sin--lust--takes on Los Angeles)
Unholy Magic, by Stacia Kane (ghoulies and ghosties)
Kraken, by China Mieville (magic, gods and a wacky alternative London)
Shades of Gray, by Jackie Kessler & Caitlin Kittredge (superheroes in New Chicago)
In Other Worlds, by Sherrilyn Kenyon (collection of three stories)
Death by  Diamonds, by Annette Blair (vintage magic series, where old garments hold special powers)
Tomb with a View, by Casey Daniels (medium Pepper Martin and the ghost of James Garfield in Cleveland)
Demon Blood, by Meljean Brook (angels, demons and vampires)
My Way to Hell, by Dakota Cassidy (ex-demon tries to find a medium to help her out of purgatory)
Undead and Unfinished by MaryJanice Davidson (vampire queen Betsy has to go to hell...literally)
Bonds of Justice by Nalini Singh (cops and Psys in New York)
Nightmare, by Robin Parrish (Ghost Town is the hottest amusement park in the country)
Stravaganza: City of Ships, by Mary Hoffman (YA, in magical Italy)
Demon Princess: Reign Check, by Michelle Rowen (YA, Half-human, half-demon Nikki Donovan)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Paranormal Fiction & Christianity: An Unlikely Pair?

I'm talking about religion and paranormal fiction over at the Write in the Shadows blog today. Hope you'll head over there and join the discussion. My fellow WITS authors and I have been talking about this topic all week from a broad range of angles.

In the meantime, thanks to Nicole Zoltack this blog award! Rules: Name five movies or books that inspired you, and pass the torch. Yow. Only five? Here goes, in no order:

1. Simon R. Green's Agents of Light and Darkness

2. Stephen King's The Stand

3. Patricia Briggs' Moon Called

4. Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind

5. Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure


Thanks, Nicole!
Now, go over to the WITS Blog and leave a comment--there's always a contest going on!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Journey So Far

I've been blogging about character development this week, and nothing develops character better (ha) than the march toward publication.

I'm guest-blogging over at crit group member Roni's Fiction Groupie blog today about "the call" and my own experience heading toward publication of my first book next year. It's definitely a journey in progress.

I'm also offering up a copy of my query letter for anyone who comments or e-mails. So head on over!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Character Studies: Choosing Sides

Talking about character development this week!

One of the good things about writing "an urban fantasy series with elements of paranormal romance" is that, unlike a traditional romance, the "happily ever after" doesn't have to appear at the end. There's time to allow characters' relationships to develop across different books. They sizzle along under the surface.

When there's a love triangle involved (or a pentagram, as my poor character DJ is learning), it gets even more complicated.

What's funny is how my beta readers over the course of the two books have taken sides. My heroine DJ, a wizard, is partners with one cousin, Alex (whom I talked about in yesterday's blog) and Jacob. The undead pirate Jean Lafitte is always hovering around in the background, being a sexy blackguard. And then a determined elf named Rand shows up in the second book.

Who does DJ end up with? Two Betas and my editor are in the Alex camp (strong macho guy with the soft underbelly he tries to hide); another Beta and my agent appear to be in the Jacob camp (strong, dependable sexy dude who's overcome a lot of hardship--the kind you want to fix); yet a third beta reader has said that DJ cannot choose Quince (sexy elf with scary mental magic and a political agenda)--that, in fact, Quince must die. Everyone loves Jean Lafitte for a fling, but can't see him having any staying power despite the fact that he's immortal.

I've been taking all this in with much enjoyment. For one thing, it means my characters have some aspect to them that has inspired loyalty, that they have come to life. For another, it means that I have managed not to telegraph which of the guys will win DJ's heart.

Do I know myself? Stay tuned :-)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Character Studies: I Hear Fake People

Continuing character week on the blog!

I was shocked the first time I had a conversation with a friend about Alex, about why we like him, what he's done, what his plans are. How Alex needs a haircut, but he's kinda sexy with it all shaggy. How he looks about ten years old when he's sleeping and all the worries and the macho crap fall off his face.

Why is that so shocking? Because Alex doesn't exist except in my head and on my pages.

Some characters come to me rich and real. They're effortless and natural. Others, like Alex, start out one-dimensional, a placeholder, an archetype. When I first met Alexander Warin, he was a steroidal studmuffin, basically, a black-clad assassin from Mississippi I planned to kill off by at least the second book in my series.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the slaughterhouse. Alex wasn't ready to go. He opened up, showed me the soft underbelly beneath the hard abs. He fought for his right to live while his cousin Jacob, the one I'd fallen in love with from the get-go, began struggling in a dark and dangerous way.

Well, damn. I had to kill off somebody else.

Do you talk about your characters as if they're real people? And has one of them ever talked his way out of an execution?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Character Studies: Writing Memorable Characters

I'm blogging about characters this week!

You've just finished a terrific book. The plot sizzled, the writing was crisp, the tone fun, the pace clipped along. Now, will you ever read it again? Will it become a permanent part of your library, or will you pass it along to Cousin George and say "just keep it?"

Chances are, if you enjoyed the plot and the book made a good, quick read, you'll pass it on to George. If you find yourself missing the book, hoping for a sequel or re-reading an entire series just to fall in love all over again, you've gotten hooked on the characters.

I'm not an expert on writing memorable characters. I struggle with it. I can fall in love with my own characters, but have no idea if I can make anyone else love them. Here's what I love to see in a character:

--Flaws. I'm re-reading JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series right now, and on the surface you'd think the brothers--all alpha male bigass vampires who fight and love with intensity--don't leave a lot of room for character development. But each one of them has a problem that differentiates him from the pack. Wrath, the king, is blind, and is born to a position he doesn't want to hold. Rhage, the beauty, shifts into a dragon if he ever loses his composure, which is often. Zhadist is an illiterate former sex slave who can't stand to be touched. Etc. They're flawed, they're compelling, and each has...

--A Personal Journey. Life is a series of journeys. We're all on several at once. How our characters approach their journey, and how they grow, touches us on some level as readers. I love Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson books because Mercy is on several journeys--to learn to trust herself and establish her own identity away from the wolves among whom she was raised; to learn to accept love and form a relationship without losing her independence and identity; to straddle the line between the wolves and the fae and the vampires, understanding that friendships aren't political appointments.

--Insight. My favorite characters are willing to look at their rough spots and acknowledge them, even if they aren't fixable. Good example is alpha wolf Richard Zeeman in Laurell K Hamilton's Anita Blake series. Richard just can't stop himself from pulling the caveman routine, from being jealous and petty and, at times, even cruel. He knows these things about himself and doesn't feel able to fix his own self-loathing, so he just keeps hurting those around him. I want to kill Richard sometimes. But I never, ever forget him. And he's never bored me.

What are your favorite character traits? Who are your favorite characters?

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Plotter Among Pantsers

Most writers I meet seem to be pantsers or very loose plotters. Not me. I have a system, as well as a little obsessive-compulsive guy living in my head with a pocketful of colored markers.

We've been blogging about plotters vs. pantsers over at Write in the Shadows this week. Today's my turn to talk about plotting and share a page from one of my truly frightening plot arcs: Check it out HERE.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Writers' Playlists: Music to Cure Whiplash

I'm working on a book about Irish vampires who live in the South...so if you can recommend some southern/celtic emo music, I'm building a playlist.

Lots of writers keep music blasting while they write--mostly to shut out kids/pets/distracting ambient noise. I find it distracting when I'm writing but helpful when I'm proofing or editing. Go figure.

But I definitely have playlists for my books--mood music, in a sense. And boy has it come in handy this week as I was unexpectedly flung from deep inside my WIP (a dark urban fantasy about my Irish vampires) to a final round of revisions on Royal Street as it makes its way through the process at Tor. It's also urban fantasy, but a full 180 from the WIP--lots of humor, sharp and snappy, and very much a part of its setting in New Orleans. Talk about whiplash! I needed my playlist!

So I've dragged out my iTunes folder called "DJ's Playlist," which has shepherded me through two books in the series so far. Click on the link to watch the YouTube videos. If you can't watch 'em all, at least check out Aaron Neville's "Louisiana 1927" from the Katrina Relief concert. I remember just weeping through that whole thing. (WARNING: And if you're a staunch Republican or are easily offended by language, you might want to NOT watch "George Bush Don't Like Black People.")

DJ’s PLAYLIST
Ain’t Got No Home – Clarence “Frogman” Henry
Backwater Blues ― Irma Thomas
Build a Levee ― Natalie Merchant
C’est La Vie ― Queen Ida & the Zydeco Cha-Chas
Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans ― Louis Armstrong
George Bush Don't Like Black People ― Legendary K.O.
Happytown ― Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer
Houston ― Mary Chapin Carpenter
If Ever I Cease to Love ― Charmaine Neville
Iko Iko ― Dr. John
In the Sun ― Coldplay with Michael Stipe
Jean Batailleur - Zachary Richard
Kingfish ― Randy Newman
L’air de la Louisiane ― Jesse Winchester
L’Ouragon ― Beausoleil
La Fille de Quatorze Ans ― Beausoleil
Lake Charles ― Lucinda Williams
Louisiana 1927 ― Aaron Neville
Louisiana Man ― Doug Kershaw
The Man in the Long Black Coat ― Bob Dylan
Mardi Gras Mambo ― The Hawketts
My Home Louisiana ― Jep Epstein
Pontchartrain Prayer Flags ― Noelle Price
Refugee ― Tom Petty
Ruins ― Cat Stevens
Take Your Drunken Ass Home ― Big Al Carson
Temporarily Ain’t Dere No More ― Benny Grunch & the Bunch
Theogene Creole -- Beausoleil avec Michael Doucet
Walking to New Orleans ― Fats Domino
Zydeco Gris-Gris ― Beausoleil

Do you have a playlist? Hope you enjoy mine!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Confessions of a Writing Contest Judge

Summertime is writing contest season, and I've been doing a lot of judging lately. I know (because I've been one) how much time goes into preparing an entry, especially for a novel-length work whose entry requirements might include a multi-page synopsis as well as a polished first few chapters.

As a judge, however, I keep seeing the same problems. Thus, a few tips for contest entrants below, at least from one judge's perspective.

I should add here that I know it's hard to edit one's own work, to get the distance needed to look at it objectively. (Ask my crit group, who saw me use the same word so often in a chapter last night they began chanting in unison whenever it appeared!) But that was a rough draft, and contest entries should not be.

Contest judges (like agents and editors) will put a lot of stock in first impressions:

* Have someone well-versed in grammar and punctuation read through your entry. This is such an easy step I have a hard time moving past it. We all miss the occasional typo or comma. But if you even suspect (and maybe even if you don't) your grammar and punctuation skills aren't up to par, find someone who can do a quick read-through. Trust me, it isn't the sexiest part of writing, but it is important.

* Respect your characters in the words you choose. If you're writing romance or women's fiction, this is especially true for your female characters. Unless you're writing humor or she's doing it deliberately for effect, your heroine shouldn't wriggle, giggle, gush, twitter (unless it involves a keyboard), hop, skip, or jump. These are kid words, and don't for a sympathetic and strong heroine make.

* It's said that God is in the details. So are contest wins. Be specific in descriptions. Don't have your hero think "that's the most gorgeous woman I've ever seen." Tell us why he thinks she is so gorgeous. By showing us what about this woman sets his pants on fire, you're telling us a lot about him without all that annoying...

* Backstory. If the sexual tension is building between hero and heroine, or the big fight scene is beginning, don't stop to provide three paragraphs of narrative about the hero's mom, or how he came to be in the job that led to this fight scene--not unless it's absolutely necessary for me to know right at that point. Otherwise, it can wait.

* Watch for distracting dialog tags. Okay, I have to admit here I'm a "said" fan when dialogue tags are necessary, but I won't take points away if the writer uses mumbled, answered, whispered, or any other verbal tag. If the dialogue tag draws attention to itself, however, it means I'm being drawn out of the story and focusing on the wrong thing (i.e., the writer). A couple I've seen recently that made me gnash teeth: managed and supplied. These are not dialogue tags. Really and truly, I supplied.

* Finally, don't only respect your characters--know them. Suzy shouldn't be shy and demure in chapter one and seducing Steve without abandon in chapter two, then shy and demure again in chapter three. Give your characters time to grow from Point A to Point B to Point C. They might have setbacks along the way, but be consistent.

Okay, kiddies, time for me to practice what I preach. My own revisions await!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Character Names: Goodbye Beth, Hello Krystal

Ever been 84,000 words into a manuscript that you’ve been working on for months, then read a book in the same genre and realize your character has the same name as the heroine or hero in said book? Argh!

I’ve been naming about 75 percent of the characters in my books after family members (deceased ones, of course--I don't have a death wish). The heroine in my New Orleans series is Drusilla Jane (DJ) Jaco, a mashup of my great-grandmothers Drusilla Jane Harris and Ida Jaco. I’ve always thought Drusilla was a wonderfully gothic name, and Jaco’s just odd. There aren’t that many of us.

Other family names appear in that series: DJ’s mother, Carrie, is named after my grandmother. Her dad, Peter Jaco, is named after…Peter Jaco, a distant ggg-uncle. See, I knew that genealogy would come in handy. The elf, Rand, is named after my great-grandfather Randolph Sandlin. I haven’t used Sandlin yet, but rest assured, it’ll show up eventually.

Which brings us to Bethany Harris, the heroine in my WiP, and a ggg-aunt. That character has been Beth since she was a twinkle in the back of my brain. She’s been kidnapped as Beth, been almost drained by a vampire as Beth, had her bones broken as Beth, fallen in love as Beth, had hot steamy vampire sex as Beth. She’s Beth.

So is the heroine of the first Black Dagger Brotherhood book.

Now, I’m no JR Ward and the Stockholm vampires are no brotherhood. But still: human girl…big vampires…closed society. Uh-uh.

A couple of days ago, after some brainstorming with the brilliant crit partner, Beth died and Krystal was born. She’s a girl from the wrong side of the tracks in the Deep South, so it seems fitting she should be named after a cheap, square hamburger, yes?

I did a global change: 636 Beths gone with the click of a key. Sigh. Easy come, easy go.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Fight Scenes for Dummies (or Wimps)

When I was a kid, maybe about five or six, I got whipped within an inch of my life for throwing spitballs in church. (So, okay, it takes more than a generation to breed redneck out of a girl. I also am addicted to "Ice Road Truckers.") Then, as a high school junior, I got a swat for either talking in class or not knowing the capital of North Dakota―I don’t remember which. My roommate got mugged in front of our house once. A bank robber ran through my yard, chased by the men in blue, wielding guns, while the same roommate hid behind a garbage can.

There, unless you count having bullets dug out of my roof in New Orleans and learning to easily distinguish gunshots from firecrackers, is pretty much my experience with violence. The men in my family don’t even go hunting.

Point being, I find it really, really hard to write fight scenes. And you can’t have a good urban fantasy without some knock-down, drag-outs, and few actually involving humans. How does one prepare for this?

Field trip. I could go out and get in a bar brawl to see what being punched in the face feels like, but really, I live in a small college town and, besides that, I really don’t want to be punched. AND I could probably take a drunken frat boy, if it came down to it.

Learn to shoot. I have my eye on a local class―the county deputies host a quarterly course on basic shooting plus the care and feeding of firearms. The waiting list is ridiculous. Which in itself is kinda scary.

TV/Movies. Sadly, this is probably how most of us learn to write fight scenes. We watch fake fight scenes on a little box and try to learn how it’s done, at least in the eyes of Hollywood stunt guys.

Other writers. I try to read outside my genre. See how others do it. What works and rings true, what doesn’t.

Workshops. There are some online courses taught by former FBI agents and cops and military folks, which strikes me as a good opportunity to have someone knowledgeable read one of my fight scenes and tell me how stupid it is.

Any other ideas for fighting the good fight against the written fight scene?

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

On Fridays, I post over at Write in the Shadows, and today I'm giving Suzanne's Top Nine Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Series -- because I want you to fill in some potential #10s for me to read.

Follow the link, and a comment will not only get you in the running for the fabulous WITS prize pack (six books and a $25 gc) but also my own $20 gc prize that will be awarded on Sunday!

What's No. 1? Aaarrooooooo! Click HERE to find out.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Read a Sneak-Peek of ROYAL STREET (and win)

Get a sneak-preview of ROYAL STREET, the first novel in my post-Katrina series, over at the Book Boost blog today, where I'm guest-blogging about writing series novels and also giving away a choice of a book or a chapter critique to one commenter!

Click ON THIS LINK to head on over.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Reading Like a Writer

Writing isn't just about characterization, worldbuilding, goals-motivation-conflict. It's also about perfecting (well, improving) storytelling skills, learning new techniques, finding out what processes work for you. And reading and critiquing other people's writing, and having them read yours. I've met some amazing writers in this process of exchanging critiques, learned a lot, made some new friends.

In the process, though, I realize I've lost my innocence as a reader, and I miss that because I was a reader long before I was a writer.

It takes me longer to get "lost" in a book now. I'm always noticing sentence structure, mentally evaluating as I read. Wouldn't that opening line have been stronger as X,Y,Z? How come (big published author) can get away with such info dumps? Wish I could express emotional angst with such beauty and clarity. Ad nauseum.

Which all makes me cringe, of course, because there will be other writers like me (I hope) who might be reading my books and doing the same thing--except maybe they won't find anything to like.

Of course I've also become more forgiving as I realize manuscripts are never really finished. I have yet to read through one of my own manuscrpts -- both fiction and nonfiction -- without the compulsion to tighten, change words, tinker incessantly. But deadlines come, tunnel-vision sets in, and we send our babies out, hoping a reader will get lost in our characters and stories--and not notice the things we'd have changed if we had Just. One. More. Pass.

What I'm lost in now: JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood. I still haven't read the two most recent, so I've started the series over to read them all straight through. I like some in the series more than others, but she does an amazing job of seamlessly carrying a multiple-POV story. Oops. There I go again.

Whose books have you gotten lost in lately?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Blogger's Holiday

Sigh. Something in my schedule's gotta give today, and it's going to be the blog. Catch ya tomorrow!